The Case of The Missing Death Certificate, part 2

As stated earlier by me in my post The Case of The Missing Death Certificate , the only publicly available medical information as to the cause of death of Sathya Sai Baba was the brief typed statement, signed by Dr. Safaya, and issued around 10.00 AM on April 24, 2011. It is little more than a ultrashort press release.

Dr. Safaya’s ‘declaration of death’, April 24, 2011

Dr. Safaya’s statement does in no way represent a full depiction of the history of illness nor of the underlying causes that, directly and indirectly, led to the demise of the renowned and notorious guru. As Indian doctor Soumitra Mukhopadhyaya rightly commented on the NDTV site that day, cardio-respiratory failure is medico-legally unacceptable as a cause of death. I’ll go even further: it’s not even a cause of death. Cardio-respiratory failure, like cardio-vascular arrest, asphyxia, renal failure, vasovagal attack, asthenia, old age and so forth are at best modes of dying, but by no means causes of death.

Prior to and following Sai Baba’s death, speculation reached fever pitch as to all manner of unanswered questions: the nature of his illness; the supposed tardiness of his admission to hospital; the unavailability of his medical history to the team of treating physicians; the supposed prolonged administration of drugs by his personal caretaker, Satyajit, to him for months on end prior to admission; the near-total closing off of the patient from any outsiders during the 28 days of admission (family and press included: not even one photo of Sai Baba in hospital was ever shot, or if so, ever published!); and, last but by no means least, even the actual date of Sai Baba’s demise. Evidence strongly suggests that Sai Baba was (brain)dead much earlier than the day Dr. Safaya pronounced him dead. After all, the VIP freezer box in which the body of Sathya Sai Baba was displayed after death in Sai Kuwanth Hall had been ordered as early as late March (!) by a mister Rajender Reddy, its delivery confirmed by mail on April 1 (or 4), its bill paid for on April 5 (57000 RPS). Immediately following payment it was sent to Puttaparthi and arrived there that very same day (April 5). Company owner Mrs. Lakshmi of Kumar & Co International, Bangalore branch, confirms this in this TV9 segment.

Below article dated April 29 2011 by Anantapur reporter D. Chaitanya sums up nicely what is said in the TV9 segment: Sri Satya Sai Baba’s Death Date Truth has come out of the coffin/freezer box?

April 29 also, the Times of India had this to say: So, did Sai Baba die on April 24?

All in all
All in all the whole thing reeks to high heaven. What is one to think? Again, the only logical explanation that makes sense to me is that Sai Baba was clinically dead already in late March/early April, some 20 or more days prior to the official pronouncement of death by Dr. Safaya! Interestingly enough, Mr. Srinivasan from the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust did not contradict Mrs. Lakshmi’s account. He refrained from any comment other than something along the lines of: ‘The coffin arrived after Sai Baba’s demise.’  No mention of the date… If the AC casket truly arrived after April 24 it must have been a hell of a job to ‘adorn’ it appropriately in time for the public viewing. Judging the available footage, that must have taken more than just putting some stickers on the glass casing and jot some gold paint to cover up the aluminum trimming.

So, did Dr. Safaya misrepresent the truth? Fact is, from the day of Sai Baba’s hospitalization, March 28, onward, more or less daily ‘health’ updates were issued by him, and an occasional longer bulletin was broadcast. The full series of health bulletins issued from April 1 onwards  by Dr. Safaya can be found here: The Sorry Tale of Sathya Sai Baba’s Final Weeks on Earth. These morsels at least grant us some possibility of tracing back the medical information handed out at the time, whether true or false. To thicken the plot, Dr. Safaya and several other doctors subsequently handed in their resignation from the Super Specialty Hospital where they had treated the man who they saw as god but had died in spite of all their efforts.

In my next post I’ll return to the case of the missing death certificate once more, and deal in depth with some of the more formal and legal issues it raises.

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